There is just something about Denzel Washington that makes me feel good when I am watching a movie. Maybe it is that he is such a recognizable star, or maybe it is the fact that he is always so good, even when the movie can’t keep up with his talent. Whatever it is I just like watching him act. I know I am not alone in this thought because Denzel has remained a steady force at the box office since the late 80’s and he is one of the few left who can say he is a genuine movie star, an actor who’s name is enough for many people to see the movie alone.
So with that information, I find it totally baffling that an over two hour movie spent half of its time not showing Denzel at all. I would rather focus the Russian gangsters and the poor young prostitute girl, who of course has a heart of gold and will find her way by the end of the film. I mean come on, the only reason to see something as silly as The Equalizer is to see Denzel being bad ass!
So why not give us that!
Director Antoine Fuqua, who directed Denzel to a completely deserved Oscar for Best Actor in Training Day, is a director who likes to make action movies that tend to go on two long and really lack any development (Training Day a side), sometimes this works (Olympus Has Fallen) and sometimes it fails (The Shooter) but I have always felt like Fuqua has a real talent for making action movies and he just needed a bit of fine tuning. That is what makes The Equalizer such a stunningly bad movie. Here is a director who knows what he should be doing, yet he peppers this films with action movie clinches (one bit has Denzel walking slow motion through some falling water and got a huge laugh from me), predictable characters and a story that goes on way way to long!
The Equalizer is a reboot (if you can really call it that) of an old TV show which started Edward Woodward. It pretty much only shares the same name, because everything else is different. In this version Denzel plays Robert McCall, a simple man, who goes to work everyday and spends every night in the cafe drinking tea, as he blows through a list of the 100 books you must read before dying. He interacts with supporting players such as Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz) the aforementioned prostitute and Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis) a co-worker at the local wannabe Home Depot that McCall works at, who enlists Roberts help lose weight, so he can become a security guard. After Teri takes a serious beating from her pimps in the Russian Mob, McCall gives us a glimpse into what he used to do before his wife died and he promised her, he would never return to again. This sets up Robert brutally making his way through 4 levels of the Russian mob, till he makes sure that everyone of them pays for hurting Teri.
Honestly to me that sound like it could be a really fun, action adventure and with the amount of stunning violence in this film, I just laid back and was ready to be entertained for a mindless 2 hours (it takes 45 mins to get all this set up! JEZZ). Unfortunately as I said before, the movie doesn’t work out that way, instead we get a few moments here and there of Denzel the vitality and the rest focusing on the members of the mob trying to think of ways to stop him. Those leaving the audience twitching in our seats waiting for more Denzel.
There is one extremely pointless scene shown in the trailer were some guy robs the store Denzel works at, and in the trailer we see him take a hammer and then after returning the stolen goods, put the hammer away…that is the scene in the movie as well! It doesn’t even bother showing us what he did with the HAMMER!
I will give screen writer Richard Wenk some credit for making a scene toward the end of the film, when they are in the Depot after dark and Denzel goes all Jason Vahroos on us, and the movie comes alive and is well thought out with some really unique deaths. However after all that fun is had the movie completely falls apart in the final 20 minutes , that are just laugh out loud bad.
There is no question in my mind that The Equalizer could have been a really good movie, if they shortened the running time to 90 mins, quicken the pace a bit, cut out some of the pointless scenes with the Russian mob and just have Denzel going all Jason throughout the movie, I think it would have been one hell of a ride! That is not the movie we get though. Denzel can only do so much with this film and he tries his best, but in the end I just becomes a complete overlong mess.